HomeIAMURE International Journal of Multidisciplinary Researchvol. 2 no. 1 (2011)

Textual Intercourse: Gadamer’s Penetration Into the Depths of Understanding

Alexis Deodato S. Itao | Jiolito L. Benitez

Discipline: Philosophy, Languages



As rational animals, human beings not only have the ability to think but also the capacity to understand. Human rationality is constituted by thinking and understanding. The immediate connotation of rationality, however, is almost always thinking. Hence, to speak of man as an animal rationale is to speak of man as a thinking being. But following his mentor Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer insists that man does not only think, but most importantly understands. To understand is an essential part of being human, of being rational. But what is understanding? What does it mean to understand? The issue of human understanding is not something simply epistemological; rather, it is something hermeneutical. That is to say, understanding always relates to the act of interpretation. In his monumental work Truth and Method, Gadamer diligently considers the matter of human understanding from a purely hermeneutical perspective. This paper, then, aims to synthesize Gadamer’s hermeneutical theory and argues that for Gadamer, human understanding is essentially characterized by a kind of textual intercourse, that is, a dialogic interaction or an intimate exchange of horizons between an interpreting subject and a text which, in very broad terms, can refer to any object of interpretation.